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11-26-2010, 04:38 PM   #1
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SMC Pentax-A 28-80mm f3.5-4.5

i've an opportunity to get this, the SMC version that looks like it's in good condition, and am wondering what you folks' thoughts are on the performance of this lens?

i did once try a badly beat up sample with a wobbly focus barrel and scratched front element, and it seemed sharp enough at f11. Wide open it was ok in the middle of the frame, softening up towards the edges. Seemed to behave the same throughout its zoom range. Colour was quite good. True Pentax colours.

It'd seen better days though so may not be representative.

Wondering what your experiences are with this lens.


Last edited by conradj; 11-26-2010 at 04:44 PM.
11-26-2010, 06:16 PM   #2
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SMC Pentax-A 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database
11-26-2010, 07:40 PM   #3
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What kind of price are you looking at? I wouldn't suggest paying more than $40 or so, and preferably less. I've used the non-SMC version and while it's alright, it is a reasonably common kit lens.
11-26-2010, 08:54 PM   #4
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It's the SMC version, which i gather was in production for a shorter time and quite a bit less common in the used market. Physically and optically different from the non-SMC as all of you lens experts know. Think it might be available around the $70 range.

Yeps, i looked at the lens review database here for it. The photo's wrong for one, showing the non-SMC lens. Plus, there seems to be only one review of the SMC lens there, and that's night and day from what i saw with the bashed up one i once tried, so am wondering if all of you folks have a different general consensus of how it performs.

11-26-2010, 08:55 PM   #5
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It looks OK, but will likely fall by the wayside if you buy anything nicer (and there's a lot of nicer stuff). I had that experience with the Takumar Bayonet, which is good for the coin (mine was only 30) but, in the end, all of my 50 dollar primes do a much better job.

Realistically, I think vintage primes are where the real value is at. Zooms have gotten a LOT better with time, and a modern zoom is heads and shoulders above their vintage counterparts. The difference is much smaller between new and old primes.

I would not pay more than 30 for that lens. For 30 dollars, though, I would prefer an M 50 1.7.

YMMV.
11-26-2010, 09:03 PM   #6
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--One odd thing abt the SMC A 28-80mm is that the waffle grip isn't a rubberized band fitted onto the barrel, it's the actual plastic shell itself molded into a shiny waffle grip surface.

That's what i remember from testing that junky sample. Never knew if that was a weight reduction thing or if it was a sign of cost cutting.
11-26-2010, 09:30 PM   #7
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Around these parts anyway it's hard to find cheap primes used.

i know what you mean abt newer zooms. When i first tried the 17-50mm Tamron i found it optically better than many of my ancient primes in the wider apertures i generally use when hand holding the camera.

As for old zooms, there probably are exceptions at least in particular parts of a lens's performance: recently i acquired the F 35-105mm and tested the F 35-135mm, and found them both very nice optically when stopped down, and they make great night time landscape lenses mounted on a tripod. They both are capable of better microcontrast than the Tamron, plus the colour repro is great.

Hm, as far as plain resolution goes nothing i currently use beats the old 135mm Soligor screw mount i have sitting on a shelf. Perhaps that just means i have a bag full of bad lenses.
11-26-2010, 09:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by conradj Quote
nothing i currently use beats the old 135mm Soligor screw mount
I've heard some great stuff about the old Soligor lenses.

I had a Soligor C/D 80-210 zoom for a while, which was the sharpest vintage zoom I have ever tried. I exchanged it, though, because I realized my copy had a nasty oil stain on an inside element .

11-27-2010, 01:38 AM   #9
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Just dug this up: this is a tripod test shot with the bashed up SMC-A 28-80. Intentionally dark tho, can't see much. In this use it was ok. Sharpness was usable and i was able to focus ok with it in the dark.

The daytime test shots at 0-1 stop from wide open were all bad; first time i put an A zoom on the K-7 and didn't get the SR adjustment right.

SMC-A 28-80mm, f11, 1s, -1EV, ISO100

Last edited by conradj; 11-27-2010 at 01:47 AM.
11-27-2010, 02:32 AM   #10
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This is a tripod test with the F 35-135mm that i mentioned above.

F 35-135mm, f10, 1/2s, +1EV, ISO100
11-27-2010, 02:50 AM   #11
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I've got this lense. Nice little lens ... if you don't have a 28-75 / 17-70 / 16-50 etc. then this is a good substitute until you do. I was quite impressed with the shots it's capable of.

Mine had a rather stiff zoom but that is an oft heard complaint - didn't (doesn't - the lense is still int he cupboard and I'd rather keep it there than sell it for the bargain amount I'd get for it) bother me in the slightest.
11-28-2010, 05:20 AM   #12
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o that's good to know. --Is the front element group and focus barrel unit stable on yours, or does it wobble? That one i tested a while ago had a wobbly front end. When i pushed the focus barrel sideways i could see the whole front element group move with it. i assumed they were attached together.

i always wondered if the optical design of the SMC-A 28-80mm and the F 28-80mm were related. They're both listed as 12 elements in 9 groups, and both have a flat front element surface.
11-30-2010, 10:54 AM   #13
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I have become very picky about zooms. I have about 160 lenses I can mount on my K20D. Of those, 14 are zooms, 8 of those zooms are newer AF, and only 1 prime is AF. My 6 manual zooms are mostly in the class of the Vivitar Series 1 70-210/3.5, and that A28-80 just ain't in that class.

My main reasons for avoiding manual zooms are 1) most newer zoom optics are better, 2) AF zooms are just so much more agile, and 3) it's hard to get SR right with a manual zoom. With my delaminating eyeballs, AF and SR are my friends.

I have had, and discarded, equivalents to that A28-80. I recently acquired an F35-70 for US$11 and it is a dream! Very fast-focusing and agile, and great optics, even if its focal range is a bit constricted. I also got a Promaster (Tamron) 28-70 for US$10, with decent optics and fast performance. Those, and even the much-maligned DA18-55 kit lens, are IMHO better than the A28-80.

Bottom line: You can do better.
12-13-2010, 12:08 PM   #14
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o gosh, how does that eye condition affect your life generally? My eyes are quite bad too tho in the normal coke bottle eyeglasses way, and have arrived at the exact same conclusions abt manual zooms that you have.

The SMC A28-80mm is better than the 18-55mm DA II optically, from my previous testing. The 18-55mm, and i have a good sample of the WR version, is quite ok in the middle stopped down, but even then the side borders give a slightly iffy feeling. The SMC A28-80 is more even across the frame stopped down.

No conclusions abt optical behavior elsewhere in its performance envelope. Not sure which has higher rez either, will need a good sample of this lens.

Colours come through different for sure between these two lenses. The kit WR lens has more modern colours. Again, don't have enough samples with the SMC A28-80 to quantify it.

Will revisit when i do, as i did finally bite the bullet on this one. It's just uncommon enuf that it attracts me, and also it is quite small.
12-13-2010, 01:33 PM   #15
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I love the F35-135 shot above. I might not have sold mine if I had a shot like that. I don't have any experience with the SMC A 28-80. I liked the FA 28-80/3.5-5.6 - a nice focus ring, looks good, light and plastic but not bad. The F35-70 is nice too, and tiny.

An F or FA zoom is nice because they report focal length to SR.
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