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06-21-2011, 11:13 AM   #1
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SMC 28-105 F4-5.6: Need advice, please!

Hey, everyone! I need some advice, please. And I will apologize in advance for what I know will be a long post, but I want to give everyone a complete enough picture to advise me. If you can hang with me until the end, I would GREATLY appreciate it!

Background on me:
  • Pentax K-x owner; also own the K10D and ist DL, but I only use the K-x these days. Love the high ISO.
  • Not a prime person, love zooms, LONG zooms. I own the Bigma 50-500, the DA 55-300. Also own the Tamron 70-300, but never use it these days; the DA 55-700 is lighter, sharper, and doesn't have the CA/PF that the Tamron has.

What I have bought over the years for the wider end, and my thoughts on what I think I need:
  • Got the original 18-55, and overall, I'm happy with the IQ, but it often isn't long enough, and I also would like something a bit faster.
  • Bought the Sigma 24-135 f/2.8-4.5 some years back, but it's too soft wide open; I usually stop it down to f/5.6 at the wide end, and f/8 at the long end. I'm looking for something faster.
  • Inherited a Vivitar Series 1 28-105 f/2.8-3.8 from my brother; pretty good, but MF can sometimes be a pain to do (I miss focus too often with my old eyes). Also, IBIS is a big plus for me, and it's all but useless with MF zooms. So, I don't use the Vivitar much.
  • Bought a Sigma 28-70 f/2.8 on eBay (NOS), but it's too soft. I'm still figuring out what to do with it, but I will probably send it into Sigma to see if they can adjust it.
  • Generally speaking, I don't think I need wider than 28mm, or even 35mm, even on APC-C. I'm just not a super-WA kinda guy. Sometimes i thing the old 45-125 f/4 would be a perfect all-around for me, but it's got the same MF/no-IBIS issue that I have with the Vivitar. I always take along the 18-55, which is small and light, and gives me that 27mm equivalent when I need it.
  • Briefly considered the DA 17-70, but $480 is just way more than I want to spend. (I'm a cheapskate, I admit it; I saved/rationalized for three years before finally getting the Bigma, and I got one for a good deal).

In looking for a wider-angle zoom to fit my needs, I went back and did some more homework/research. The FA 28-70 f/4 gets good reviews for quality, but I worry that 70mm is just not that much more than 55mm, so it will probably be too short. Also, I've read a lot about how there can be element separation suddenly showing up in that lens. All in all, I decided it's not for me.

My research also turned up the the Pentax SMC 28-80 f/3.5-4.5 and Pentax SMC 28-105 f/3.5-4.5. They sounded promising, so I started looking for them, on this forum's marketplace, on eBay, and on KEH.

My SMC 28-80 f/3.5-4.5 KEH saga:
  • Found one on KEG, "BGN" quality, for $45. Great!
  • When it was delivered, it turned out to be the Takumar version, not the SMC. Bad!
  • I e-mailed KEH with pics of the lens, and they agreed to swap it out. I had to pay $7.90 to ship the lens back, but they are sending me an "EX" version for my trouble and their error.
  • Waiting for that order, will probably get it early next week.

My SMC 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 KEH saga:
  • While dealing with KEH on the SMC 28-80 f/3.5-4.5 issue, I began to worry that 80mm was not long enough. Lo and behold, I found a 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 at KEH! Another "BGN" lens, for $133; seemed like a good price.
  • I almost considered canceling the 28-80 order from KEH, but for $45, I figured I'd get both, and then compare the two.
  • I ordered the 28-105 from KEH, and when it arrived, I discovered that they goofed it up AGAIN! The lens was NOT the F/3.5-4.5 version, but instead was the re-0branded F/4-5.6 Tamron version! Arghhh!
  • I immediately emailed KEH, and sent them pictures.
  • I got an apology and the option of sending the lens back for a refund, or taking it for a $40 discount; i.e., the lens would cost me $93.00 instead of $133.00

If you have stayed with this thread so far, I thank you. My question to you all: If you had a chance to buy an SMC 28-105 F4-5.6 for $93.00, would you?

My initial thoughts are to return the lens, for these reasons:
  • The F/4-5.6 just seems slower that what I think I would be happy with.
  • To be honest, I'm ticked off at KEH right now. The first mistake, OK, we're all human, no one's perfect. But two goof-ups in two weeks; somebody needs to review some basic QC measures! This is just sloppy work, not looking carefully at the lens info before posting it on the web site for sale!

I think I would be happier in the long run just waiting and keeping my eye out for the 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 version. While I wait and look, I can play with the 28-80, which I am still getting, to see how I like it.

But what do you all think? I guess I wondering if someone will post a reply along the lines of, "No! Keep the lens! It's a great lens and that's a great price for it! You'd be getting a great bargain!"

Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for any advice.


06-21-2011, 11:22 AM   #2
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I've used both and I'd say that the better construction of the F4-5.6 version is worth the slower speed (the power zoom is also pretty fast in it!). I've also always been under the impression that the IQ was better.

With that said, price aside of course, I can strongly recommend the DA 18-135mm over all older Pentax lenses similar to it. It's just so handy!

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06-21-2011, 11:30 AM   #3
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If I were in your shoes, I'd keep looking for the faster lens.

I have a Sigma 28-105 2.8-4, which is my workhorse for events. It's a good lens and very sharp. I have been looking for the Pentax also (and was when I found the Sigma), and frankly if you want the faster lens, keep looking for it.

Let me know what you think of the 28-80, I've been looking at one also.
06-21-2011, 11:35 AM   #4
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I own the FA 28-105 f/3.2-4.5, and I love it for walkaround, taking pictures of people and lots of other things. It's not very sharp wide open, and that's part of why I like it for people. The close focus at 105mm is nice as well for flowers and the like. One interesting "feature" I found on my copy is that it makes some very blatant rainbow halos when shooting into the sun.

Just my observations with the lens that I have in that range.

06-21-2011, 12:41 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I've used both and I'd say that the better construction of the F4-5.6 version is worth the slower speed (the power zoom is also pretty fast in it!). I've also always been under the impression that the IQ was better.
The Power Zoom version is different, isn't it? There are two SMC Pentax-FA 28-105mm f4-5.6 lenses, one with Power Zoom, 58mm filter, and really heavy. The other is 62mm filter, no Power Zoom, internal focus. Then there's the final FA 28-105, f3.2-4.5.

I have the Power Zoom version, and I like it, even though it is the exact opposite of the type of lens I like. I've used the Vivitar Series 1 already mentioned, and it was OK except for the yellow cast and the SR problem. I used the SMC Pentax-F 35-135mm f3.5-4.5, and I think the 28-105 wins on image quality, plus I like its range better.

I'm not using the lens enough to buy the other 28-105s and compare, but not everyone likes this model. The fastest latest version tends to sell for more than either of the slow ones. I got my Power Zoom version cheap because the switch on the lens barrel fell off, a cosmetic issue only.

I sold the Vivitar and the F35-135 for around $50 each and paid $70 for my version maybe 3 years ago, so $93 from KEH isn't that bad. A Pentax lens is easy to sell if it doesn't work out, and even a slight loss is cheaper than renting.
06-22-2011, 09:50 AM   #6
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I have the actual Tamron version of this lens. It is a decent lens. It can be a little soft at the long end. I like the range it has and use it often. It is usually cheaper than the Pentax version of the same lens. $93 from KEH is not a bad price for the Pentax version.

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