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07-13-2011, 11:06 AM   #1
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Pentax lens adavantage

Before I made my decision to go for Pentax, I was reading through forums and reviews and I quiet often used to see people mentioning the main advantage to purchase in favour of pentax is that we can even use it's large database of old lenses. Although I still didn't understand it fully I went in favour of pentax.

Can somebody help me explain a little bit about this so as to make me realise how lucky I am - the thought running in my mind is - aren't there old lenses that can be used for canon and nikons then?

07-13-2011, 11:18 AM   #2
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Pentax have been using the same K mount for 3 decades. That means all Pentax K mount lenses being produced can be used on any Pentax DSLRs w/o adaptor. Even older M42 lenses can be used as well via adaptor. All of them will benefit from body SR. However, old lenses w/o 'A' on the aperture rings will operate in M mode only. In term of backward capability, Canon actually beats everyone else because their bodies are thinner, so many lenses of other brands can be used via adaptors, including Pentax K lenses. There won't be body SR however, and some might require lens modifications depend on the combination. Nikon is more like Pentax because their basic bayonet mount has been the same more or less, but with more restriction on their lowend bodies, but less with highend bodies. There won't be body SR either (which is the major pro with Pentax).
07-13-2011, 11:19 AM   #3
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Canon is a weird case. Canon can not do its on Legacy glass with a few exceptions. For example, the FD and earlier Canon glass has a shorter registry distance than the EOS system mount. However, that shorter registry distance allows the use of most other mounts via an adapter that doesn't require the use of IQ degrading optics. In some cases the full frame Canon bodies require the mirror to be shaved but is often done. A similar thing can be said of the m4/3 regarding the use of most mounts with an adapter.

Nikon does support their on Legacy glass with certain bodies but not all bodies.

Pentax can use most K and m42 lenses (with m42 adapter). A series have essentially all functions except AF. M and k require use of the green button and m42 require the adapter and green button.

That is it in a quick and dirty summary, but there are many subtleties and nuances with the the use of Legacy glass among these systems.
07-13-2011, 12:27 PM   #4
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Nikon has a longer registration distance than M42 lenses, so any adapter needs a glass element for maintaining infinity focus, which is not helping image quality.

07-13-2011, 01:38 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by sany Quote
Can somebody help me explain a little bit about this so as to make me realise how lucky I am - the thought running in my mind is - aren't there old lenses that can be used for canon and nikons then?
Yes, but I would argue that this is missing the point.

In Pentax's heyday, they were a top-notch brand with a lot of industry respect. Their M42 mount, and early K-mount lenses, were in direct competition with lenses produced by Zeiss, etc. A SMC Takumar (or SMC - K mount) 50mm f1.4 is an absolute steal at the price, and being able to mount them on a modern DSLR (with such ease) is *not* possible with Canon or Nikon. It is possible with some other brands, but they would be just as "obscure" as Pentax.

Optical technology has not really progressed *that* much in the last 50 years. Camera body technology has. You can get absolutely phenomenal results with a K 24 f2.8 and the K5, or one of the old 50's, or one of the old 85s.

Pentax is also one of the only modern companies that will produce an old-school, full frame, autofocus lens like the FA 77.

Really, pentax is about the primes. And it's not for people who love auto-everything. I'm happy my first camera purchase was a Pentax, because the plethora of old, good lenses (ahem K55 f1.8) forced me to actually learn photography.

I recently went of a trip and rediscovered how manual focus can be far superior to autofocus. And I was using a 50 dollar lens. This is the joy in using Pentax. It's a system for enthusiasts. I wouldn't bother with it if people were paying me to take pictures, but as a hobbiest, I can't think of a single better bang for the buck (and fun) system to use. Pentax is also notable for actually caring about how a camera "feels". Ergonomics are a strong suit of Pentax (with Nikon, and especially Canon, lagging far behind in my worthless opinion).

I mean, you can look at the DA 40 on paper and think "why bother?"... but when you use one, you will understand.
07-13-2011, 01:50 PM   #6
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If you're an AF person, the benefit of Pentax would be limited to cost and in-body stabilisation.
Otherwise, Pentax provides that unsurpassed backwards compatibility other manufacturers just didn't bother with.
Enjoy.
07-13-2011, 02:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote

Really, pentax is about the primes.

I recently went of a trip and rediscovered how manual focus can be far superior to autofocus. And I was using a 50 dollar lens. This is the joy in using Pentax. It's a system for enthusiasts.
amen to that and like
07-13-2011, 04:06 PM   #8
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I would add that Pentax has excellent,perhaps the best overall support for legacy and manual glass by way of the metering and "Green button" So far I am not aware of any brand that can meter as easily with an M42 lens. Or of course with an M or A lens stop down to meter while TTL is wide open to focus.

So to full appreciate the feature do a search on the Pentax Green Button with manual lenses. Then find a Garage sale special on some old Pentax glass. My favourite has been the M501.7 for $45.00 CDN. It has made experimenting with primes pretty affordable indeed.
Cheers
Roger

07-13-2011, 06:57 PM   #9
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For newer lenses, nobody can match Canon, but their good glass is pretty expensive.
Modern Canon cameras can exploit many many older lenses, but with severe limitations.
Much newer Nikon glass is also great, and expensive. Older glass on newer bodies is limited.
Nikon cameras can't exploit non-Nikon-mount glass; Canon, Sony, and Pentax cameras can.

Sony dSLRs can use some older lenses; Sony NEX cameras can exploit almost anything!
Pentax dSLR cameras support older glass from various makers with few limitations.
I have many old lenses. My current camera is Pentax. My next may be a Sony NEX.
But Pentax still seems to offer the best price vs performance amongst dSLRs.

As mentioned, Pentax Takumars are among the best manual-focus lenses ever made.
They rank with the best of Leitz / Leica, Zeiss, Schneider, Nikon, in 35mm-format cameras.
Many Pentax K- and M- and A- and F- an FA-series lenses are pretty damn excellent too.
That's why Canon and Sony NEX users snap them up, leaving nothing for we Pentaxians!

Last edited by RioRico; 07-13-2011 at 07:07 PM.
07-13-2011, 07:58 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
I'm happy my first camera purchase was a Pentax, because the plethora of old, good lenses (ahem K55 f1.8) forced me to actually learn photography.
Absolutely! You get all the fun of learning and practicing the technical aspects of photography with the bonus of digital giving you instant gratification. Combine that with the fact that in-body image stabilization and "green button coaching" have your back while you're learning and I cannot express how pleased I am that Pentax was my first (D)SLR. I say green button "coaching" because the camera's suggestions are teaching me and slowly but surely I'm getting more and more confident and relying on it less and less.

I'm also having almost as much fun shopping garage sales with my kids looking for super cheap old glass to experiment with. Ok, not quite, but having a $7 50mm F1.7 that makes a fun walk-around lens (thanks to green button metering and in body SR) is pretty darn cool.
07-16-2011, 12:41 PM   #11
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got to disagree, I recently bought k-x 18-15, 55-300. I'm a newb, but budget lens (used ok) choices are not really looking great.

For me, my goal is to highest # of good pics for least amount of hassle/cost/time possible. I haven't tried mf cif yet, but canon has a 50mm prime 1.8 af for that's $100 new. Anything around this size is $350 from pentax =/

I am total willing to put the time to train myself in mf, as long as it results is having the same amount good focus shots as af in a real life setting, no studio or still life please. Correct me if I'm totally off base.

Last edited by bob13bob; 07-16-2011 at 12:55 PM.
07-16-2011, 01:10 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bob13bob Quote
got to disagree, I recently bought k-x 18-15, 55-300. I'm a newb, but budget lens (used ok) choices are not really looking great.

For me, my goal is to highest # of good pics for least amount of hassle/cost/time possible. I haven't tried mf cif yet, but canon has a 50mm prime 1.8 af for that's $100 new. Anything around this size is $350 from pentax =/

I am total willing to put the time to train myself in mf, as long as it results is having the same amount good focus shots as af in a real life setting, no studio or still life please. Correct me if I'm totally off base.
Disagree with... what?

We're talking about old lenses, so the Canon 50/1.8 doesn't really fit. On the Pentax side, a user wishing for a 50mm under $100 would go with an older MF 50mm - there are scads of 50/2's out there for $20. Or the lovely, quirky Helios 58mm lenses for similar price.

One of the main reasons that 50mm is so popular is because it represented the so-called "normal" FOV on a 35mm (today's full frame) camera. To duplicate that experience now, you'd want a lens in the 30-35mm range. Pentax has the 35/2.4 that sells for under $200, which is competitive with Nikon's slightly faster, slightly more expensive 35/1.8 and Canon's much more expensive 35/2.

Unfortunately, the zenith of Pentax's used lens market has passed, and over the last couple of years the price of used K-mount glass has gone up... dramatically.
07-16-2011, 01:44 PM   #13
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well, when the new canon 50mm 1.8, is cheaper even when new, significantly sharper with less CA when both are at 1.8, and across most f-stops. not looking good for pentax options. If we want to bring in-body SR in to this; that's great but not really necessary for a fast 50mm. Also in-lense SR is vastly superior to in-body SR, so we can't get 100% apples to apples match

dpreview.com - Lens Review - Fullscreen

Last edited by bob13bob; 07-16-2011 at 02:00 PM.
07-16-2011, 01:55 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bob13bob Quote
well, when the new canon 50mm 1.8, is cheaper even when new, significantly sharper with less CA when both are at 1.8, and across most f-stops. not looking good for pentax options. If we want to bring in-body SR in to this; that's great but not really necessary for a fast 50mm. Also in-lense SR is vastly superior to in-body SR, so we can't get a ch.100% apples to apples mat

dpreview.com - Lens Review - Fullscreen
If you're talking modern glass, than yes, Pentax has a huge disadvantage. But if you're like me and use mostly MF, then Pentax is the way to go.
07-16-2011, 01:55 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bob13bob Quote
well, when the new canon 50mm 1.8, is cheaper even when new, significantly sharper with less CA when both are at 1.8, and across most f-stops. not looking good for pentax options. If we want to bring in-body SR in to this; that's great but not really necessary for a fast 50mm. Also in-lense SR is vastly superior to in-body SR, so we can't get a ch.100% apples to apples mat

dpreview.com - Lens Review - Fullscreen
Have you used both the Canon 50/1.8 and Pentax F50/1.7? (or the FA50/1.4 which you linked to, which is a different lens BTW).

I'm guessing the answer is no.

As I said early, the 50/1.8 is a nice lens and a tremendous value, but it is not superior (other than in terms of cost) to the Pentax offerings in terms of IQ nor build quality.
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