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03-24-2011, 01:04 PM   #1
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MF 24-50mm f4 vs Modern Lens

How does the optical quality of an older zoom like the A24-50 f/4 compare to the modern pentax mid-range zooms (18-55/17-70/16-45/18-135 etc) when stopped down to f/8.

I want a manual-focus zoom to be used as a landscape lens (for coverage between my DA15 and DA70), usually used with tripod (so shake-reduction is not a factor), and usually will be stopped down to f8+, so wide-open stats aren't as important.

I usually carry the DA15/A28/DA40/DA70. Most of my shots tend to be in the 28 and 40 range, and I was looking for a zoom to possibly keep from making lens changes out on the trail... but I really prefer the old manual focus rings compared to the short-throw plastic on the new stuff.

03-24-2011, 03:26 PM   #2
axl
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildboar Quote
How does the optical quality of an older zoom like the A24-50 f/4 compare to the modern pentax mid-range zooms (18-55/17-70/16-45/18-135 etc) when stopped down to f/8.

I want a manual-focus zoom to be used as a landscape lens (for coverage between my DA15 and DA70), usually used with tripod (so shake-reduction is not a factor), and usually will be stopped down to f8+, so wide-open stats aren't as important.

I usually carry the DA15/A28/DA40/DA70. Most of my shots tend to be in the 28 and 40 range, and I was looking for a zoom to possibly keep from making lens changes out on the trail... but I really prefer the old manual focus rings compared to the short-throw plastic on the new stuff.
stopped down to f8 you won't see much difference in terms of sharpness between most lenses IMO.
One thing to look at with older (or any for that matter) zooms is distortion. One thing is that DA40 is practically distortion free and has fantastically even resolution from f2.8 all the way to f11.
My advice, with the lens set you have, I wouldn't be looking at mid range zoom of any generation to replace it! Only if you really need WR than maybe 18-135 or 18-55WR would be an options....
03-24-2011, 04:07 PM   #3
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axl, after I got home from work I got out my A35-70 f/4 and the DA40 for some test shots of my barn door. The DA40 is sharper, even at f8. It is noticeable at 50%, more obvious at 100%... but it's not a glaring difference, even at the edges/corners the 35-70 is very good. After exporting to 1200-wide jpg (from RAW file), I can't really tell a difference. There is some curvature of the 35-70 @ 40mm whereas DA40 is excellent in that regard. The most obvious difference is the color-cast (brownish-reddish paint on the door).

As for the DA40, it is my favorite lens and I would never part with it. I'm just looking for something to use when I'm backpacking, tired, and not in the mood to change lenses (but don't want to shoot a classic scene with a mediocre lens).

Thanks for responding.

Last edited by wildboar; 03-24-2011 at 04:37 PM.
03-24-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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I had the F 24-50, which is not as well-regarded as the A version. It is a nice lens, and covers a very useful range. IQ was definitely a few steps down from the DA40, especially wide open. I didn't do a lot of tripod f/8 shooting with it though. It had a different feel than DA lenses. I suspect it would be a notch below your 35-70, for what that is worth.

ETA I took it on a family trip to a cabin on a lake, and used it for 60-75% of my shots; but all the ones I liked best were with the DA40.

03-24-2011, 05:40 PM   #5
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Nick,
I'm not sure what it is with the 40, other than the simple fact that I seem to take good shots with it. I think different people see things better at certain focal lengths and create better pictures in their sweet spot... and I seem to be a '40'. It was mostly the 40 which taunted me to switch from Canon five years ago (after the switch from Minolta ten years prior) as I was always looking for ways to trim weight/bulk from my hiking gear.

I haven't bought a used lens in over nine months, so I'm getting a little shaky Maybe I'll pick up that BGN A24-50 on KEH and test it out.

If you run into my sister up there in WI, tell her I said 'hi'.
03-24-2011, 07:12 PM   #6
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I will say that the FA 20-35, although not quite as nice a focal range, is a smoking zoom. The best one from Pentax I have used. (No DA* here, though). But the A24-50, I think one could have some fun with that too. I've had my eye out for a FA 24-90, but that is getting a little on the large size for me to walk around.
03-24-2011, 08:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildboar Quote
How does the optical quality of an older zoom like the A24-50 f/4 compare to the modern pentax mid-range zooms (18-55/17-70/16-45/18-135 etc) when stopped down to f/8.

I want a manual-focus zoom to be used as a landscape lens (for coverage between my DA15 and DA70), usually used with tripod (so shake-reduction is not a factor), and usually will be stopped down to f8+, so wide-open stats aren't as important.

I usually carry the DA15/A28/DA40/DA70. Most of my shots tend to be in the 28 and 40 range, and I was looking for a zoom to possibly keep from making lens changes out on the trail... but I really prefer the old manual focus rings compared to the short-throw plastic on the new stuff.
WB. after I saw a "New" A 24-50mm f4 @ our Marketplace last night I did some quick research. I did not discover anything worthy of note about the lens, but then it is capable enough too. That said, zooms sure have come a lot further since the A series lenses were made than primes have.

I am a big hiker, and for 3 years trusted the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 to my hiking duties. An excellent lens, especially when you consider it covers wide angle to 50mm, with amazing evenness throughout. Not as amazing as the Da 40 2.8, but then it has much more focal length responsibility entrusted to it than the DA 40 does. You might want to consider this option, or you can pick up the much newer designed Sigma 17-50 OS HSM lens for a couple of hundred bucks more--even better performer, though I do not see the need for it. Wide open, the Tamron is more even than the Sigma, but the Sigma takes over after that. My concerns with the Sigma are paying for OS in the lens, after investing in Pentax SR--also, someone here @ the Forum says leaving the OS mechanism on while changing a Sigma OS lens can damage it--this scares me off, though I am not sure this applies to this particular Sigma.

That said, F8 is the ultimate equalizer of lenses on APC, at least for sharpness--contrast and rendering are another story in some cases, but nothing PPing can't successfully tackle.

I think your move to a zoom for hiking is a great idea, but I would get a newer zoom. The Tamron SP 24-135 3.5-5.6 is probably Tamron's best newer zoom in this range--in the opinion of many. You can get one used in the 200-300 dollar range @ our forum sometimes, & though the lens is discontinued, it is still available new @ Amazon. It is a Full-framer, w A-Ring lens. Check out the reviews for it @ the Fred Miranda site. I now use this lens and am amazed at its performance, throughout the range. BTW, I hike all 4 seasons of the year, and have done fine without WR lenses. My Pentax 18-55 WR, after a test up against my Tamron zooms, never made it in my hiking bag--not even when I Winter hiked, below zero wind chill temps, over 5000 feet, in snow.

Here is a recent shot with the SP 24-135, in tough, overcast and cloudy conditions--I waited for clouds to pass by, so I could get this:

03-24-2011, 09:59 PM   #8
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jewelltrail,

I wasn't familiar with the Tamron 24-135 3.5-5.6. Thanks for pointing it out. It seems fairly compact. If I was hiking in the winter and wanted no lens changes at all (gloves/snow/wind/etc), that lens looks like a good idea. I don't think I would ever go with that lens as a standard part of my kit though, because going from 'all primes' to 'no primes' might cause withdrawals

I already have the Tamron 28-75 and it somewhat covers the range I'm looking for and it has excellent optics... but from a manual-focus standpoint it has a short throw and feels kinda delicate compared to primes and older zooms. It is great for covering any type of gathering/party/event/etc, and that's where I usually use it.

I just started this thread as part of my research into the possibility of going with a solid, small-ish, old-school zoom to augment my primes on the trail (and if it drops into a canyon I won't cry too much). I realize I may run into a dead end on this, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

I just ordered an A24-70 f4 from KEH for $105. I'll post the results here after next week. In that range I already have the A28, A35, DA40, A501.7, and DA70... and I don't expect it to top any of those... but maybe it'll be 'close enough'.

03-24-2011, 10:24 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildboar Quote
jewelltrail,

I wasn't familiar with the Tamron 24-135 3.5-5.6. Thanks for pointing it out. It seems fairly compact. If I was hiking in the winter and wanted no lens changes at all (gloves/snow/wind/etc), that lens looks like a good idea. I don't think I would ever go with that lens as a standard part of my kit though, because going from 'all primes' to 'no primes' might cause withdrawals

I already have the Tamron 28-75 and it somewhat covers the range I'm looking for and it has excellent optics... but from a manual-focus standpoint it has a short throw and feels kinda delicate compared to primes and older zooms. It is great for covering any type of gathering/party/event/etc, and that's where I usually use it.

I just started this thread as part of my research into the possibility of going with a solid, small-ish, old-school zoom to augment my primes on the trail (and if it drops into a canyon I won't cry too much). I realize I may run into a dead end on this, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

I just ordered an A24-70 f4 from KEH for $105. I'll post the results here after next week. In that range I already have the A28, A35, DA40, A501.7, and DA70... and I don't expect it to top any of those... but maybe it'll be 'close enough'.
WB: I too own the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8, and use it to shoot people--it has yet to make it on a hiking trip. Trust me, the SP Tamron 24-135 is far better built than the 28-75, and is nice to manually focus, much nicer than the 28-75. It is a real lens--bult like a tank too. It is the highest rated zoom (Tamron) @ the Fred Miranda site. REad here: FM Reviews - Tamron AF 24-135MM F/3.5-5.6 AD Aspherical (IF) Macro You can find this lens, because it is discontinued, sometimes for under $200. That is something you can drop off a cliff and live with. I have been hiking all my life--sometimes pictures arise which are once in a lifetime & I would NOT entrust those kinds of moments to an old zoom--Just my opinon, of course. This sP lens is excellent--it will rival IQ of your primes, unless you pixel peep until your eyes bleed.

JT

BTW, I'd love to see shots with the A 24-50 f4
03-24-2011, 10:34 PM   #10
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jt, If the build quality is better than the 28-75, with better manual focusing, and a price in the 200-300 range, I may have to track one down for a test. Thank you for the follow-up tips on the build-quality and focusing.

Last edited by wildboar; 03-24-2011 at 10:45 PM.
03-24-2011, 11:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildboar Quote
jt, If the build quality is better than the 28-75, with better manual focusing, and a price in the 200-300 range, I may have to track one down for a test. Thank you for the follow-up tips on the build-quality and focusing.
U are welcome. Yes, it is much better built & manually focuses much better. I bought it brand new, @ Amazon, for $160. There was a thread here, in the "Pentax Price Watch" section of our forum for the lens around Christmas time. I think, when they opted to discontinue the lens, dealers dropped the price to reduce inventory. Here is the Forum thread, but, unfortunately, the lens has since climbed back up in price.


https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-price-watch/126187-tamron-24-135mm...40-amazon.html

BTW, the lens comes with hood, and the nicest storage pouch I ever received with a lens purchase.
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