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01-08-2011, 09:02 AM   #1
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Leica/zeiss vs Pentax lenses, anyone have any experience?

Hi all

Ive been taking lots of shots with my Pentax KX and the cool Takumars from the 60s and 70s, but I was wondering if anyone has a comparison between the Taks and the Leica and Zeiss lenses of the same era?

IE which is *better* or sharper, I know thats a subjective question, but if anyone has any input/advice , feel free to chime in!

d163

Im half hoping that the taks are 95% as good for 1/25th the price so I dont go nuts and buy german glass

01-08-2011, 10:37 AM   #2
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Have you compared any Takumar with the respective K-series lens, for example Tak28/3.5 against K28/3.5 (under somewhat demanding contrast contitions)? The K 's are comparable to the Leica-Zeiss.
01-08-2011, 11:32 AM   #3
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Leica threadmount (LTM / L39) rangefinder lenses won't work on a Pentax mount except for extreme close-ups, so they aren't really comparable. Some Zeiss glass is truly astounding. And some is mass-market and not quite so astounding, like the zillions of black M42 CZJ Tessar 50/2.8's littering the landscape. Some Zeiss glass for uncommon mounts can be good AND cheap, like my little aluminium Exakta-mount CZJ Tessar 50/2.8 with 12 iris blades (US$8 a couple months ago). I started a thread detailing an easy non-destructive adaptation of Exakta lenses to Pentax mount. Just don't snap-up all the Exakta-mount Zeiss glass before I get some more, please.

Schneider glass is in the same league as the best from Leitz, Zeiss, and Asahi Pentax, but tends to be less adaptable to Pentax mounts. AFAIK Schneider didn't make too many M42 lenses. They had a close relationship with Kodak and made good lenses in DKL mount for Retina SLRs, but a DKL-PK adapter costs ~US$100, ouch. Schneider also made/makes outstanding enlarger lenses which can be used on bellows for general or macro photography for decent costs. And then there's the most outrageous lens I own, a Schneider Betavaron 50-125/4-5.6 enlarger zoom, on 30mm externsion for general use: brutally sharp, creamy bokeh despite it's star-shaped 5-blade iris, and damn weird to use (US$70 a couple years ago, marked down from US$3.5k).

Which of any of these brands (or super offerings from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Topcon, etc) is 'best' is somewhat a matter of personal preference, and of specific lenses. Don't get too infatuated with German glass (at least leave some for me!) but don't ignore it either. Such lenses are discussed extensively over at the Manual Lenses Forum.
01-08-2011, 12:17 PM   #4
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Rio

I actually double posted here and at mflenses too , but I figured Id get more info on the German gear at MFL and more info on the Taks here.

The reason why I was asking is: I have a KX that I love, but 2 CY Zeiss planars that wont work on it, plus since I was a kid Ive lusted after a Leica, so I was debating whether to stay the course and continue with the KX + Taks and M42 lenses ( including my aluminum CZJ tessar from 1954) , or buy a newer EOS body for the planars, or sell the planars and keep saving for a M8 Leica , any suggestions?

01-08-2011, 01:21 PM   #5
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Here's a link to some ten year old test data by Peter S. Spiro comparing some classic Pentax lenses to equivalent Zeiss, Leitz, and Nikkor lenses. You will see that some Pentax lenses rank up with the best.

Pentax Lens Review by Peter Spiro
01-08-2011, 01:41 PM   #6
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interesting!
01-08-2011, 03:10 PM   #7
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Zeiss vs Pentax

I had only 2 Contax/Yashica Zeiss lenses converted to PK mount - Sonnar 85/2,8 and Planar 50/1.7...similar Pentax lenses I used were Pentax FA 77 and S-M-C Takumar 50/1.4, Pentax M50/1.7 + Pentax FA43/1.9. While 77 and 85 are in my opinion quite different in rendering, Zeiss being more sharp, Pentax having more pleasing overall rendering and bokeh(to my eye), standards were more easy to compare. Planar beats Takumar and M50 for resolution - no contest. FA 43 is much more worthy oponent - but i think even here Zeiss is marginaly better. So much for my experience with Zeiss lenses - Sonnar 85 was sold, I'm keeping Planar 50 so FA43 must find a new home....although it was though decision.
01-09-2011, 01:47 AM - 1 Like   #8
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leica and zeiss vs pentax

I did a few comparison here and here.

In my opinion Leica primes (35/1.4, 35/2, 50/1.4, 60/2.8) are fantastic and some can be had at reasonable prices like the excellent Macro-Elmarit 60/2.8.

01-09-2011, 06:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dude163 Quote
I have a KX that I love, but 2 CY Zeiss planars that wont work on it
I've posted both here and at MFL my simple mod to mount C/Y and OM lenses on PK cams. Basically, I use a Dremel blade to shave away a little of the lens' bayonet flags so they fit under the PK mount's lugs. The lenses should still be mountable on their native cams, so I consider this mod to be non-destructive. I've so shaved two C/Ys and two OM's, and I haven't lost one yet! The fit is not perfectly secure; my next step will be to cut a small slot in a lens base, so the PK's locking pin will secure the lens. This surgery is much less harrowing than trying to replace the mount (I've only done that successfully with a junked Petri bayonet) and much less expensive than changing systems.

Sorry, I can't mediate your Leica lust. That's up to you and your banker.
01-09-2011, 06:15 AM   #10
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I've never owned a Leica (although I'd love to), but in competing against others who own their cameras, I've come to make a distinction between their SLR lenses and their M-series rangefinder lenses. To me, Pentax lenses are as good as the SLR/DSLR lenses from any other manufacturer, but Leica's M-series is in a class of it's own.
01-09-2011, 08:08 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by foxhead Quote
Here's a link to some ten year old test data by Peter S. Spiro comparing some classic Pentax lenses to equivalent Zeiss, Leitz, and Nikkor lenses. You will see that some Pentax lenses rank up with the best.

Pentax Lens Review by Peter Spiro
Interesting article. I knew the K50/f1.4 was good but didn't know it has the highest central resolution. Does that mean the SMC Takumar 50/f1.4 has the same central resolution since they are both supposed to be identical except for the mount?
01-09-2011, 11:03 AM   #12
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Daniel, I just have to give you a shout out for this excellent image

02-16-2011, 12:49 AM   #13
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Thanks, dude!

The other day I tried to reproduce a similar quality from a much more humble lens, the Vivitar Series 1 105/2.5 macro ($260 compared to nearly $2000 for the Leica 35/1.4) and this is what I got (click on the link below the image to see the full sized image in picassa):



https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/KA5cgGbxj7c0ENlt_2LPZA?feat=directlink

Not a bad effort, don't you think? (I did have to doctor it a little by removing the "burnt out pink" areas like on the underside of the petal in the front especially by desaturating).

On the other hand I am impressed how versatile the Leica is - for macro or landscape, for indoor portraits or night work - it rocks!

Last edited by DanielT74; 02-22-2011 at 08:31 PM.
07-27-2011, 05:40 AM   #14
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Funny thing is: I ended up Buying A Leica M8

still lobe the KX though for macros and fast moving kid shots!
07-27-2011, 06:39 AM   #15
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heh, I sold my M8 and bought the K-5.
If you are used to SLR ergonomics, the M8 is the horror in a boxy form.

cannot really say anything yet about lenses, but on Leica, I sold most of my Leicas (Elmarits, mostly) and used Konica Hexars. Preferred them by a mile, but I cannot really say why

Last edited by kanzlr; 07-27-2011 at 07:18 AM.
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